New Jersey Devils: Nathan Bastian Could Have Interesting Role This Season

New Jersey Devils forward Nathan Bastian (14): Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils forward Nathan Bastian (14): Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils are looking to have a much better season after an extended rebuild. While everyone will talk about young guns like Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Jesper Bratt, Nathan Bastian could be an important part of the Devils’ success. He’s not going to score 30 goals or put up 100 points, but he could have a huge impact on this team’s ability to win.

When Bastian was in Seattle at the beginning of last season, he didn’t seem to fit with that organization. It appeared they didn’t really know what his role could be. Then, they attempted to send him to the minor leagues to figure it out. Fortunately for the Devils, he had to go through waivers to make that happen.

There was no way the Devils weren’t going to claim him. The fanbase was feening to add Bastian. The team was playing incredibly soft at the time, and Bastian plays with the edge the team was desperately missing. Bringing him back was a no brainer.

Nathan Bastian could be a key piece to New Jersey Devils lineup this season.

When Bastian returned, he immediately made that impact the Devils hoped he would. Bastian ended up leading the Devils in hits by a lot. He finished the season with 210 hits. While hits as a stat is flawed, there was a clear toughness the Devils needed that Bastian provided. With no Miles Wood in the lineup, and a defense built on offensive ability, it seemed teams could take shots at the star players while also very easily getting into the zone every shift.

This season, Bastian is once again going to play a fourth-line role, but it won’t be up to him exclusively to provide toughness to the team. Wood is expected to return at full strength from his hip injury. The Devils acquired Erik Haula and his 129 hits. They also added Ondrej Palat and his 123 hits. There is toughness on this roster.

This will allow Bastian to focus on his offensive game a little more. Again, Bastian is never scoring at a rate that would put him in the top six, but getting him 15 goals would make him one of the most important support players on the team. He had 12 last year, so this really isn’t out of the question. If Bastian could get to 30-35 points in the same role he held for most of last year, it would do well to fill out what’s becoming a pretty talented Devils forward group.